Posted by Greg A. Bedard December 30, 2012 06:00 PM
FOXBOROUGH – A few thoughts as the Patriots lead the Dolphins 21-0 at halftime:
- We didn’t see any good replays, but it looked like DE Rob Ninkovich suffered one of those non-contact injuries that usually don’t turn out very good. It was announced as a hip injury in the press box, but it sure looked like a left knee injury. Ninkovich couldn’t put any weight on it as he came off. It doesn’t look good.
- That would be a big loss for the Patriots. Ninkovich does so many things and does them well, he’s a big part of what they do on defense. Ninkovich isn’t just a pass rusher, so he’s harder to replace. Patriots would need a couple guys to do what Ninkovich does, so a platoon would likely be in order.
- We saw the return of Rob Gronkowski, who is doing anything he can not to use his left arm. Not a big fan of that. Patriots shouldn’t press their luck in the second half with a big lead.
- Tremendous job by the offensive line in the first half. Tom Brady had been knocked to the turf 45 times in the past five games. Not only has he not been hit, he hasn’t been pressured. The Dolphins have zero pass rush. Part of it is because the Patriots are using a quick passing game, but the other portion is the Dolphins not looking like they want to be here.
- Patriots are also averaging 4.1 yards per rush. Danny Woodhead is having a tremendous game. A few of the plays have been blocked poorly for Stevan Ridley. Nice work from Shane Vereen, though I wouldn’t expect to see him in many pass protection situations.
- The Patriots’ defense is handing it to the Dolphins up front, whether they bring pressure or not. Brandon Deaderick and Justin Francis have gotten sacks that were set up by rushes from the outside.
- Aaron Hernandez still isn’t himself, but he at least looks healthier. That’s a good step.